ROYAL COMMISSION ON THE ANCIENT AND
HISTORICAL MONUMENTS AND CONSTRUCTIONS
Report to The Queen's Most Excellent Majesty
May it Please Your Majesty
We, the undersigned Commissioners appointed to make an Inventory of the Ancient and Historical
Monuments and Constructions connected with or illustrative of the contemporary culture, civilisation
and conditions of life of the people of England from the earliest times to the year 1714, and such further
Monuments and Constructions subsequent to that year as may seem in our discretion to be worthy of
mention therein, and to specify those which seem most worthy of preservation, do humbly submit to
Your Majesty the following Report, being the thirty-seventh Report on the Work of the Commission
since its first appointment.
2. We thank Your Majesty for the appointment to the Commission of Dr. Peter Kidson, Fellow of the
Society of Antiquaries.
3. We have pleasure in reporting the completion of our recording of the monuments in the central
area of York lying within the city walls and east of the River Ouse, an area containing 539 monuments.
4. Following our usual practice we have prepared a full, illustrated Inventory of the monuments in
the centre of the city, which will be issued as the City of York v. As in other recent Inventories, the Commissioners have adopted the terminal date of 1850.
5. The methods adopted in previous Inventories have in general been followed. This Inventory covers
the historic core of the city, including many buildings of great historical and architectural interest and many
streets of outstanding importance.
6. Our thanks are due to incumbents and churchwardens and to owners and occupiers who have
allowed access by our staff to the monuments in their charge or ownership. We are indebted to the York
City Chief Architect, Mr. R. W. Horton, and his colleague Mr. D. Green; Mr. C.B.L. Barr, York Minster
Sub-Librarian; Mrs. R. Green, York City Archivist; Mr. M. L. Smith of the York City Library; Dr. D.
M. Smith, Director, Borthwick Institute, University of York; Mr. John Ingamells, formerly Curator,
York City Art Gallery, and Mr. P. Gibson, Superintendent, York Glaziers' Trust, all of whom have
constantly given assistance to our Investigators in their researches. Many architects have provided generous
help, and especially Messrs. Brierley, Leckenby, Keighley and Groom; Messrs. Ferrey and Mennim;
Messrs. Ward, Ruddick and Ward; Mr. Francis Johnson; Mr. John Miller; Mr. John Hutchinson and the
late Mr. George G. Pace.
7. While our Inventories of York have been in preparation, the city has seen many improvements.
As early as 1946 York City Council prepared plans for the restoration of the Shambles, and though the
work could not be begun until some time later the Council demonstrated their awareness of the pressures
of post-war redevelopment and their intention to preserve historic York. York was quick to take advantage
of Government legislation which provided financial and legal support for environmental improvements:
in 1966 a Town Scheme was introduced to assist the owners of historic buildings; in 1968 Conservation
Areas were designated and in the same year 'York. A Study in Conservation' by Viscount Esher was
published, being one of four reports on historic towns commissioned in 1966 jointly by the Minister of
Housing and Local Government and the City and County Councils concerned. The York Civic Trust in
its handsome Annual Reports has for many years drawn attention to buildings in need of attention, encouraged all endeavours to improve the environment, and given effect to its principles by purchasing and
restoring important historic buildings within the city, including No. 111 Walmgate (537), Nos. 17, 19
Aldwark (61) and Peasholme House (417), which come within the area of this survey.
The results of the researches of our York staff have been made available to the Local Authority in
forwarding all the above-mentioned works and they contributed much to the historical knowledge contained in the Esher Report. Our staff have also given much expert advice to the York Civic Trust, to the
York Georgian Society and to other amenity bodies.
8. We humbly submit to Your Majesty's notice the following recommendations for the preservation of
monuments in York. In view of the great historical and architectural value of the mediaeval central area
of the City of York as a whole we believe that the entire area should be regarded with special consideration for conservation purposes. Within that area, certain streets have either buildings of outstanding merit
or contain groups of buildings, the destruction of any of which would reflect adversely on the whole. Individual buildings in these streets have not therefore been enumerated; instead the entire streets are named
at the end of the list below.
The following buildings are especially worthy of preservation:
(1) All Saints, Pavement, mainly of the 14th century.
(2) Holy Trinity, Goodramgate, mainly of the 14th
and 15th centuries; the interior little altered since
the 18th century.
(5) St. Cuthbert, Peasholme Green, mainly 15th-century.
(6) St. Denys, Walmgate, partly of the 14th and 15th
centuries; notable 12th-century doorway reset.
(8) St. Helen, retains little mediaeval structure, but its
W. front with late 19th-century stone lantern is of
(10) St. Martin, Coney Street, 15th-century remains
of a church partly destroyed in 1942.
(11) St. Mary, Castlegate, of pre-Conquest origin but
much altered and enlarged later in the Middle Ages.
(12) St. Michael-le-Belfrey, an almost complete
building of the mid 16th century.
(13) St. Michael, Spurriergate, of the 12th, 14th and
PUBLIC BUILDINGS AND INSTITUTIONS
(33) Bedern Hall, a 14th-century structure with a fine
scissor-truss roof, and of considerable historical
interest, but requiring a major scheme of restoration.
(34) St. William's College, a college of priests, built
round a courtyard, 15th-century.
(35) The Treasurer's House and Gray's Court, a
large house principally of the 17th century with
fine 18th-century fittings, incorporating a wall
of a 12th-century house.
(36) Guildhall, an aisled hall built c. 1449–60, greatly
damaged by bombing in 1942 but rebuilt after the
war. The rooms at the W. end remain undamaged.
(37) Merchant Adventurers' Hall, built in 1358–61,
with hospital below and guild hall above, incorporating the earliest known brickwork in York;
early 15th-century chapel with late 17th-century
(38) Merchant Taylors' Hall, built c. 1400 as a large
timber-framed ground-floor hall; partly refaced in
brick in the 18th century. Almshouse of 1730.
(39) St. Anthony's Hall, built c. 1453 as a guild hall
with hospital below, having walls partly of stone
and partly timber-framed, the latter replaced by
brick in 1656; fine crown-post and arch-braced
(40) St. Leonard's Hospital, ruinous remains of one of
the largest mediaeval hospitals in England, 13th-century.
(44) Mansion House, St. Helen's Square, 1726–32, an
imposing Palladian building in a visually important
(45) Assembly Rooms, 1730–5, by Lord Burlington, the
principal room based on Palladio's 'Egyptian Hall'
design. Refronted by J. P. Pritchett, 1828.
(48) De Grey Rooms, St. Leonard's Place, 1841–2, with
simple stuccoed facade of elegant charm.
(50) Foss Bridge, 1811, by Peter Atkinson junior.
(61) Oliver Sheldon House, Nos. 17, 19 Aldwark,
a large brick house of c. 1720 incorporating earlier
work, including a plaster ceiling of the early
(77) No. 18 Blake Street, 1789, designed by John
Carr's partner Peter Atkinson senior; a good
example of a well-proportioned house of the
(82) Fairfax House, No. 27 Castlegate, built for
Lord Fairfax by John Carr, with outstanding
interior fittings; completed 1762.
(89) Castlegate House, No. 26 Castlegate, 1762–3,
a well-preserved town house designed by John Carr.
(117) Nos. 18, 19 Colliergate, a house of 1748; despite
conversion of the ground floor to shop premises,
much of the facade remains; the original fittings
of the saloon are in situ.
(130) Nos. 16–22 Coney Street, three 15th-century
(151) Nos. 28, 30, 32 Coppergate, a large 15th-century
timber-framed house of unusual plan, with first-floor open hall.
(156) The Red House, Duncombe Place, an early
18th-century house built as a town residence for
Sir William Robinson, Lord Mayor in 1700 and
M.P. for the city 1697–1722. The building occupies
a very prominent site.
(233, 234) Nos. 11–14 High Ousegate, two pairs of large
early 18th-century houses with ambitious facades
in the baroque manner.
(249) Cumberland House, No. 9 King's Staith, a
stately early 18th-century house in a prominent
position on the waterfront; containing fine fittings
of the period.
(250) Judge's Lodging, No. 9 Lendal, one of the most
unusual and interesting early Georgian houses; set
back from the thoroughfare in its own grounds.
(254) Nos. 10, 12, 14 Lendal, an important pair of early
Georgian houses, with some good interior fittings.
(285) Midland Bank, No. 1 Nessgate, 1839, designed
by J. B. and W. Atkinson.
(287) Cumberland Row, Nos. 3–9 New Street, a
terrace of four houses built in 1746; with excellent
(307) Building in Patrick Pool, a well-preserved late
timber-framed structure of doubtful purpose.
(311) Herbert House, Nos. 12, 14 Pavement, and
attached buildings facing Lady Peckett's Yard,
important late timber-framed and early brick
(317) The Black Swan, p.h., Peasholme Green, a
timber-framed house built for Sir Martin Bowes in
the 16th century; important both visually and
architecturally, with many late 17th-century
(395) Nos. 1–9 St. Leonard's Place, the only example
of a Regency stuccoed terrace in York.
(417) Peasholme House, St. Saviour's Place, c. 1752,
a well-proportioned house, set back from the
thoroughfare; recently restored by the York Civic
(516) Nos. 68, 70 Walmgate, an early 18th-century
house containing some original fittings.
(528) No. 25 Walmgate, a late 17th-century brick house.
(536) No. 77 Walmgate, a late 16th-century house; one
of the few timber-framed buildings in this part of
(537) Bowes Morrell House, No. 111 Walmgate, a
timber-framed house built c. 1400, with one-bay
The preservation of the following streets is thought to be of
Chapter House Street, a short cobbled lane, bounded
by the walls and entrance of the Treasurer's House
and small houses, and terminated visually by the
Minster choir and chapter house to the S.W.
College Street, at the eastern end of the Minster and an
essential part of its precinct; entered from Goodramgate by the last surviving gateway into the
precinct. The fine stone and timber-framed St.
William's College, with adjacent brick cottages,
gives scale to the massive E. end of the Minster.
Goodramgate, a meandering thoroughfare, remains one
of the most attractive streets in York, despite some
modern intrusions; it contains timber-framed
buildings of importance, such as Lady Row (222)
built in 1316, which has the framing plastered, and
Nos. 41–45 (193) and 47–51 (194), of the 15th
century, where the timber is exposed; in scale,
texture and colour they complement the red and
brown brick Georgian houses in an urban group of
high scenic value. Retention as a whole is strongly
Minster Gates, a short alleyway linking Stonegate
with Minster Yard, lined with brick buildings of
the 18th and 19th centuries with good shop fronts,
and making a fine frame for the Minster S. transept
Minster Yard, including Minster Court, an essential
part of the Minster precinct.
Newgate, bounding the open market, having a row of
early timber-framed buildings.
Petergate, High and Low. High Petergate, entered from
Bootham Bar, one of the city gateways, is one of
the few streets in York where the mediaeval street-line has survived. It is lined with brick buildings of
mostly Georgian date and extends as far as Stone-gate, with a break at Duncombe Place. Low
Petergate is one of the most impressive streets in
the city, with many 17th-century or earlier gabled
and timber-framed houses and early and late
Georgian houses. Though most have had shop
fronts inserted, many of these are good examples of
late Georgian and early Victorian times and few are
Precentor's Court, a quiet lane opposite the W. end of
the Minster, lined by early 18th-century small
houses terminated by the well-proportioned
Fenton House (377).
Shambles, one of England's most famous mediaeval
streets, has gabled timber-framed houses with
adjacent plainer Georgian fronts to set them off.
Most have been well restored.
Saint Saviourgate, with many good Georgian houses,
the Unitarian Chapel, 1692, the Centenary Chapel,
1840, and the Tudor-style Lady Hewley's Hospital,
all contributing to a pleasing group. Despite the
intrusion of some unsympathetic modern buildings,
considerable progress has been made in the restoration of many of the houses.
Stonegate displays buildings of all periods from mediaeval to Victorian and of materials ranging from
timber framing to brick and plaster for the later
buildings. Despite the disparity in dates and materials,
the consistency of scale throughout gives a unifying
quality to the whole. There are many good shop
9. This Inventory has been prepared by our Investigators, Messrs. J. E. Williams, E.R.D., A.R.C.A., F.S.A.,
D. W. Black, B.A., F.S.A., T. W. French, M.A., F.S.A., I. R. Pattison, B.A., F.S.A., Dr. E. A. Gee, M.A., F.S.A.,
F.R.HIST.S., Mrs. S. E. Ault, B.A., and Mr. I. H. Goodall, B.A., assisted by Dr. R. M. Butler, M.A., F.S.A., and
Dr. B. E. A. Jones, with photographs taken by Messrs. T. H. E. Buchanan, C. J. Bassham, and W. C.
Light. Drawings are mostly by Mr. A. R. Whittaker. Mrs. J. Bryant has greatly assisted the editorial work
10. We desire to add that our Secretary and General Editor, Mr. R. W. McDowall, C.B.E., M.A., F.S.A.,
has afforded constant assistance to us Your Commissioners.
11. We desire also to put on record our regret at the death of Mr. J. E. Williams and our appreciation
of his services to the Commission.
12. The final Inventory of the Monuments of the City of York will be devoted to the Minster.
A. J. Taylor
W. F. Grimes
S. S. Frere
R. J. C. Atkinson
H. M. Taylor
J. K. S. St Joseph
A. R. Dufty
C. N. L. Brooke
A. C. Renfrew
I. J. Thirsk
R. W. McDowall (Secretary)